Hyderabad-based Pixelloid Studios is a seven year old company that was begun by a group of animators in 2005: Yugandhar Tammareddy, Nayeem Akthar, Raj Potula and Bala Shankar. As well as now producing industry projects for the thriving Movie and TV industry in India, the education sector can be found deep within the same studios.
Pixelloid brings its in-depth production knowledge and experience to create a production environment in training, with a specially formulated production-based curriculum. Pixelloid has already built a reputation for being an institute focused on quality training and is committed in keeping up with the industry's ever changing demands.
Some of Pixelloid’s projects include regional feature films like Sri Rama Rajyam, Dookudu, The Businessman, Oosaravelli, Magadheera, 100% Love, Gaganam, Anaganaga O Dheerudu, Khaleja, Brundavanam, Orange, Aarya-2, Bommarillu, Pokiri and commercials like Amrutanjan, Thumps-up and Fantac.
As mentioned in the list above, the Pixelloid Studio in Hyderabad delivered 51 shots in a music clip in a recently released film, Oosaravelli. This story is one of many traditional folklores in India that have made it into screen form over the decades. Now with the advent of VFX and the talent to do the effects locally, the tradition, as they say, continues. CGSociety spoke with Raj Potula. "Our culture screams out for VFX because it is deeply engrained with fantastical effects, even in the literature. The freedom that digital effects has given us, allows us to fully complete the most amazing effects," he said. "We have Maya, which we use primarily, and we have many seats of Fusion for compositing. In the latest series of cinema advertsing we have produced was for a spot for Ford was with conversion to stereo."
Most of the traffic of work that arrives in Hyderabad is for the local film industry. Almost 90% of the work is for the local film industry. "It may not sound like much but it is a lot. "We don't tend to get much in the way of advertisements because most of the work is shot and produced in Mumbai," explains Potula. "More and more of Hindi films are being shot here in Hyderabad, and that's bringing in more work. There is just so much work, and it is increasingly asking for CG elements," Potula continues.
The VFX supervision onsite was Nayeem Akhtar, one of the directors at Pixelloid. A team of 25 artists took a couple of weeks to complete the VFX which included matte paintings, 3D match-moving and an immense amount of rotoscoping work.
The song was shot on a plot of land within the Hyderabad city which is surrounded by buildings in the span of 3 days. Nayeem adds, “The main challenge faced was of matching the look and feel of the visual reference provided by the Director Surender Reddy. Micheal, our VFX Supervisor from LA, played key role in achieving it. The other challenges were during the shoot on the location. We wanted to do multi-layer shots with camera in motion. It’s possible only with a Motion Control Camera Rig, but unfortunately it wasn't available on our shooting dates. We went ahead to do those with manual camera motion after a few rehearsals. It wouldn't have been possible without the DP Rasool's expertise of handling the camera."
“We used different techniques of 2D tracking the layer and rendering it with 3D tracked camera info in Maya for the multilayer shots. It worked well to give us the Motion control kind of effect. We had to give multi-pass layers for color corrections in DI to get the overcast feel. We had shot the song in bright sunlit day and had to work hard to get the overcast feel. DP Rasool did a brilliant job to get overcast day and day for night feel in the song," Nayeen explains.
"Our training is based on actual production requirements and we hone our students not only in the software but also teach them tips & tricks useful in the live production pipeline. 90% of our workforce are our own students and some of them have grown to be the best Visual Effects Supervisors in our company, like Arun Pawar & Praveen Ganta" says Yugandhar Tammareddy.
Ajay Tangudu has been working in Pixelloid Studios since its beginnings in 2005 and he spoke with CGSociety. “I joined Pixelloid to manage the training division, but within three months, seeing the creative freedom that was being developed in staff, I shifted to the VFX production division. Pixelloid was a small company when it started, about 15 employees, but now has leaped to become one of the leading VFX studios in the regional industry. The company has now completed work on around 100 films.”
His first production was a song sequence, with CG buildings backdrop. We filmed the singer in a green screen and tracked the footage and placed her in a total CG backdrop. This sequence was screened at Visual Effects Society Festival in 2006 at the Steven Spielberg Theater in Hollywood. "I was overwhelmed experiencing the appreciation at the very start of my VFX career. My colleagues and directors at Pixelloid who were far more senior to me co-operated and helped me to achieve this milestone," said Tangudu.
Ajay has continued to work at Pixelloid Studios, and tells me the mix of educational opportunities at the studio, as well as the range of professional placements within jobs actively in the industry, has helped him to move up the rungs to become Technical Director on work that has not yet been released.